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Skarner Build Guide by GenShadow

Tank Skarner: Guardian of the Jungle

Tank Skarner: Guardian of the Jungle

Updated on March 20, 2017
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League of Legends Build Guide Author GenShadow Build Guide By GenShadow 105,754 Views 5 Comments
105,754 Views 5 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author GenShadow Skarner Build Guide By GenShadow Updated on March 20, 2017
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LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Smite


Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
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Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies
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Hello I am GenShadow, Gold player in season 6 and that was done without abusing the meta so take it how you want.
Skarner is currently my goto jungler and I jungle a fair amount with about every champion that comes and goes so I do have a share of experience when I speak of other champions and matchups.

A note before we start that Skarner scales a lot better with AD than with AP if you want to be offensive but the AP scaling is not to be mocked since when it comes to your W shield and gives a slight bonus in the rest of your offensive abilities. I highly recommend staying with AD to become a real bruiser but if you want AP i will not stop you.


-Skarner reaches notable powerspikes at Level 6 with ultimate Impale for ganks.
-Second powerspike once Stalker's Blade - Cinderhulk AND Trinity Force are complete, you will feel it believe me.
-Skarner possesses major powerspike with other items once complete but the last REAL one you cannot avoid is Level 16 with maxed out ultimate.
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Guide to this Guide

NOTE: Skip to the video section if you just want a real fast first clear or how awesome Skarner can be in ganks or teamfights. No one will force you to read my mindset and reasoning when you just want items and general tactics.

Note that i will use A color scheme for important information and also the vocabulary shortcuts are provided here for quick reference:
CC = Crowd Control (This consists of slows, stuns, suppression, roots and so on)
ADC = Attack Damage Carry (Bot lane damage dealer such as Jinx or Graves)
MS = Movement speed, how many units can the champion move per second or so
AD = Attack damage, how much physical damage one deals out
AP = Ability Power, how much mages or scaling abilities damages do
AS = Attack speed, how many attacks per second
AR = Armor, how much % of AD one resists
MR = Magic Resist, how much % of AP one resists
CDR = Cooldown Reduction, just CD is Cooldown
IMO = In My Opinion, an H means Honest but I swear everything written here is honest.
CTR = Critical Chance, self explanatory i sure hope
Health or Health Regeneration

Note the above are in the color they should be in the guide, some variances exist but as long as you remember color means important stats or information then it should be fine.

Quick Guide to CC for those foreign or does not understand what some do.
Root = Become stationary, thats it, no movement
Stun = Stationary and cannot use any abilities or items (the worst)
Suppression = What your Ult does, no movement or abilities BUT Quicksilver Sash can be used.
Slows = exactly what it says, slows people down. NOTE that the % of slow is EXTREMELY variant in between champions. Karthus hits a slow of 99%!!!
Blind = make you miss any AA in duration. Can use QSS or Cleanse
Knockup = Thrown in the air, only summoner spells are allowed.
Silence = No abilities can be used nor summoner spells.

for full list and effects: http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/Slow#Slow
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Pros / Cons

  • Tanky
  • God Speed Jungle Clears
  • Game Changing Ultimate
  • Scales with Any Build
  • Late Game Monster
  • Easy Jungle control with spires
  • Very Weak Early Game
  • If behind he is limited in options
  • Much weaker outside of spires
  • Missed E and/or Wasted W hurts alot
  • Ult can be countered easily
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Fleet Footwork
Dark Harvest
Phase Rush
To start off, runes are very personnal choices especially on Skarner since he scales off almost everything. The choices of runes I give are simply to help him survive the start and then it is all on the items since these won't matter much late game.

Skarner is a very fast champion in general and this is just to top it off, if someone kites you, you are doing it wrong.

These glyphs are the real magic resist runes to go for tanks. By the time you come out of the jungle, these scaling will outshine the flat easily, its almost free merc threads boots worth of resist for free.

These are my favorite, here you could use scaling Health or % health increase but in my experience it seems the extra armor helps survive overall but especially on the first clear.

The Marks of Attack damage is to ease up the clear and some duelling early, you get your AS from trinity and fury.
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For faster clear and Q resets Damage increases up to 3% for free flat stats to abuse scalings


Jungle sustain, pretty basic Gotta go fast bigger W and Colossus shield surprising tankyness especially early game.

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Crystal Spires (Passive)

Undervalued by most and unknown to alot of people. These represents your zones of control, stand on them to capture and gain 15 Gold but the best part is when you capture them yes you reveal your location (be smart in your capture) but it works both ways. Their jungler missing yet one of your spires turns red, take a laner and pay him a visit. Please also note that when you capture a spire you gain vision of what is inside of it for a few seconds, perfect to check for enemies or if buff is still there. Next is when you are inside a spire, most will run and with a good reason. You gain 70-120 MS (based on your level), 43-160% Attack speed! Yes it is a real number but that is not all, regains 2% of maximum mana EVERY SECOND!! Who needs talisman now!

Q - Crystal Slash

Your most used ability BY FAR!! Usually the first thing you will want to max out first IMO. This thing scales a ridiculous 33-45% AD and a bonus magic damage with the same 33-45% AD and a flat 30% AP and if that wasn't enough, it's CD is reduced everytime you hit something/someone with a basic attack. This means you can spam it easily as it costs allmost nothing but it's CDR is 4X FASTER AGINST CHAMPIONS against a champion and best part is that it is an AOE! Bread and Butter right here.

W - Crystalline Exoskeleton

Your best friend for chasing or tanking. This ability is severely UNDERATED because listen to this, this is a free shield which scales ridiculously at 10-14% of your maximum health + an insane 80% AP!! This ability is to used when you expect to tank damage to gain the upper hand. Here is the real scare and underated part, it gives a free 0-16% MS Bonus! Chase them down and bring them back into the fight!

E - Fracture

Your friend when ganking or running away at all times. This is THE ONLY SKILL SHOT Skarner possesses yet it can flip a fight around. Throw it out and they are slowed are ridiculous 30-50% MS and applies reasonnable damage which scales at a nice 20% AP. The best part is what comes next, hit them with a basic attack and they are STUNNED, that's right, STUNNED! FOR A WHOLE SECOND! That is plenty of time to finish them off or get in position so make it count.

R - Impale

This is your beloved, game changing, ultimate. Skarner has one of the best ultimate in the game for pacing the game, ADC hiding inside his friend, fish him out. Stand off 5v5 at a tower, fish one of them out and make it 5v4. Friends on the way to help you but need more time, no need just drag the enemy to them. SO undervalued yet so awesome, impale them as it scales at an incredible 60% AD and 50% AP but not just on impact, drag them for almost 2 seconds and then the damage is applied AGAIN!!
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This is how it works but it remains similar for both sides, i will cover both blue side and purple side individually just case and remember, this is just my perosnnal preference and it has always worked so far.

***Forgive the walls of texts, this is lenghty and requires technical attention, for short version please watch the videos of first clear. For the though process, i am sorry but please read, your mind is strong.***

- Blue Side -
Look at the map, go to your first clear and put a ward on one of the yellow circle locations to prevent invade. Hopefully your team can ward as well and help prevent any unnecessary trouble. Get a leash only on your first clear and make sure they leave before the monster dies else it puts you behind.
On first clear, gobble a potion at 3/4 or 1/2 health, keep this up until no more potions. They should all be gone after second or third clear depending on how leash went.
Once Krugs are secured (or red depending on your start) then move on to the other so red or krugs. These are your two first clears and from now you have two choices, choice A is to go after scuttler which is my preference and if you capture your spire then it could also result in first blood if done correctly. Else you can go raptors and then scuttler but odds are the enemy already secured it or maybe not, no way to know unless you check. I always gobble up the other two health potions when doing red buff or just one if i still had smite and it gives me a very noticeable advantage against the enemy jungler should i fight him in the river for the scuttler, roughly 30-50% more health than he has which is HUGE at level 2-3.

Now you aren't a wimp when playing as Skarner, DO NOT RECALL! That's right, grow some scorpion balls and either gank bot or mid, if no opportunity is open then move on to your blue jungle. That's right we ain't being chickens and recalling for more health potions, only weakling use those after level 1.

My preference is to secure the Baron scuttler right away since you have some lifesteal from your machette and it will give you more than enough health to secure your blue buff. If taking for yourself just remember you do not need to smite it, shouldn't need to since your spire gives you mana for dayzzzz.
Once your blue buff is secured move on to the giant frog, smite the guy for the poison effect, E him before he poisons you and shield up once he is free from his stun. Just fight it out and go for your wolves. Smite if you want to be quick at them or if you get nervous but it should be fine if you ALWAYS fight inside your spires.
This Ladies and Gentlemens is how you do your first jungle clear with Skarner, the double jungle clear with no recall is monstruous and gives a nice advantage over your lane opponent. One that can be used to gank while he is still farming, one he could not counter due to your gold lead so early.

- Purple Side -
This is similar to the previous clears except you clear the giant frog instead of krugs. Smite this guy ALWAYS when level 1, smiting only becomes optional when you can clear without it easy. Move to your blue buff but NEVER give this one away at start since you need the CDR to counter balance the red buff you could have had. After this it is either scuttler or wolves and again i will say my preference is scuttler due to lifesteal but remember if the enemy shows up and he also gobbled up his 3 health potions, HE WILL WIN the fight!!! His red buff will make him win so DO NOT ENGAGE unless if you have a VERY CLEAR advantage or your ADC or Mid coming in to help.
AT ALL TIME for a level 1-6, Skarner should pick his battles, he is mediocre without a few items and his ultimate.
You can also on purple side choose to start top and do your red buff instead of blue but if that is the case have your own blue buff warded by someone just in case the enemy jungler gets a bit too cheeky and steals it. The only reason most junglers start bottom is due to the faster leash of a support and the ADC is stronger than just the top laner not to mention getting him hurt will put him behind.


After the initial run through the jungle is done than keep wandering around and ganking where you see fit. Watch for the Assist pings, the danger pings and make the plays on an over stretched enemy. REMEMBER AT ALL TIMES THAT YOUR BEST FRIEND IS DOUBT!!!
That's right, if the enemy doesn't know where you are they will be edging forward with doubt and will not fully commit which is great for your team. Same for your team with their jungler, but if he ever appears than make him pay! If he ganks top and you are close then swoop in from behind, save your laner and pick up the double kill or at least hurt them so much they need to recall so that you can keep roaming freely or maybe take a tower. If he ganks bottom but you are top than make a play and take their top laner out of his misery and remove the burden that is his tower.

You are a jungler, a playmaker and a team saver! DO NOT IGNORE YOUR TEAMMATES! I simply cannot stress this enough, nobody wants a jungler that sits in his jungler until level 18, make the plays, make the ganks even if there is no kills just pushing the enemy back and missing CS is HUGE!!
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The new guy on the Rift, VERY RESILIENT! Honestly this guy will DESTROY you in no time so bring your mid or top laner. ALWAYS duo him whenever you try to take him, as Skarner you should tank the hits, try to make it so the Herald's back faces your laner so they get the bonus 15% max health true damage done. Note he does resist 35% of ranged auto attacks. ARE YOU MAD?! Soloing this thing is crazy! He is crazy strong even if you are fed! A mini Baron in all aspects, if you want to solo, same procedure as the real Baron described below but please do not do it. The price of time and health is too great, you WILL have to recall, not to mention the buff is better on a laner than the roaming jungler.


Dragon can be cleared by any team as early as level 3-6 depending on composition as long as you aren't alone. When going for Dragon remember to meet some of these requirements: Jungler is dead and you will go solo. Else bot lane was double killed and your own bot lane (alive) will come help you take Dragon. This is not World's, you will not get your whole team in for the first one and a helpful tip, ALWAYS TAKE THE FIRST ONE IF POSSIBLE! It's value is ABSURD! Skarner can easily solo the dragon at level 6 IF and ONLY IF he has Stalker's Blade and Sheen. This will allow him to do enough damage to claim it alone BUT a friendly reminder to have the enemy jungler dead or busy on the other side of the map. Once you have those two items you CAN ALWAYS solo the dragon, keep building up and he only becomes easier. A friendly reminder, ONLY SMITE TO KILL IT!!!! NOT TOO EARLY AND HOPEFULLY NOT TOO LATE. Always ward the enemy side of the pit.



This Guy is CRAZY STRONG! I mean it, only handle with the utmost power and allies. NEVER BEFORE LEVEL 11 AT THE VERY LEAST! Rule of thumb for Baron, ALWAYS HAVE NUMERICAL ADVANTAGE! That means the enemy jungler is dead or at least two of them while your team is entirely alive. It should be a 5v3 at least! ACE is the best time to do Baron that your team is entirely alive or not. If one wishes to solo, you NEED at the VERY LEAST: Trinity Force, Stalker's Blade - Cinderhulk, Dead Man's Plate and now your offensive, you NEED some Lifesteal and for Skarner the best options are Hextech Gunblade or Ravenous Hydra. Rule of thumb when soloing Baron... BE READY TO BAIL OUT AT THE DROP OF A HAT!!! See an enemy laner coming, BAIL! Enemy missing, BAIL! teammates got killed, BAIL! You WILL get caught out and killed while they get a weakened Baron and it will be GG with raging teammates.
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TeamFights and Matchups

General Overview

As a jungler you want to be around especially since you are a tank for your team but the best part of the jungler is they do not know WHEN you will show up.

A Skarner surprise is frightening in all aspects, coming out of the brush or Flash over a fall will scare most players into breaking formation or scrambling their skills. As the tank this is the optimal situation, if you eat all the CC and skill shots then your team is free to engage without fear of retaliation. The best part of this is as a tank, you will SURVIVE!!

If they retain some of their wits they will push you back and poke you, that is fine. Throw Fracture in their formation aiming for their ADC such as Jinx, pop Crystalline Exoskeleton and rush towards your juicy target. DO NOT ATTACK TO STUN!! Nah you want to Impale and bring them towards your team, count the 1.75 seconds of suppression and once its over, AA to stun with the Fracture. Most players will think it is gone but no, it is frozen in time thanks to Impale. This will give a free kill! ADC gone with a total of 3 seconds of CC done all by you. Clean up the rest of their team as they are a much lower threat now.

In general if you cannot get the element of surprise, stay in the front line and wait for an engagement or make them pay for a mistake. An engagement would be something like an Amumu jumping in and ulting or an Ashe arrow. Anything that will give you an advantage,

Specific skirmishes against some champions:

Note that a surprising amount of Lee Sin will go first blood cheese at your buff so do not start krugs or toads, start at your buff to deny him the easy kill. If he isn't too fed or you are ahead then by all means, EAT HIS Sonic Wave / Resonating Strike during a teamfight and let him come to you. SHOW HIM HOW OVERRATED HE IS!! He cannot hurt you fast enough, Crystalline Exoskeleton for his initial skills combo then Fracture him and finish him!

Dodge her Crescent Strike if you have a choice, else if it will hit a squishy than eat it FACE ON. DARE HER to jump in, DOUBLE DARE HER! Taunt, laugh i don't care but bait her in! Same combo as Lee Sin. If fed she is dangerous like any other champion but pop your Crystalline Exoskeleton to block her combo and take her in deeper into the pits of hell she jumped in.

He is extremely Difficult in teamfights, he will Bandage Toss inside your team and Curse of the Sad Mummy your entire team which will make everything go bad!! DO NOT EAT IT!! Some you want to jump in but not this one, he is too tanky and will put you all out of comission very fast. Engage him at long range only so that it becomes risky for him to jump in.

He has major sustain thanks to Eternal Thirst but his only real threat \is his ult Infinite Duress aimed at your ADC or any squishy, this is your time to Fracture him or Impale him away, he is not untouchable at that time, he is EXTREMELY VULNERABLE!! Abuse it and make him pay for taking on your squishy in your presence!

His best engage is his ultimate, Grand Skyfall but you get a huge zone warning and can easily clear out of it. Fracture stun or Impale to cancel his ult if you find him in the jungle else IF he manages to land and you are there, Fracture the enemy team to slow them from falling on your team and Impale their ADC to catch their attention.

His ultimate Unstoppable Onslaught is a pain in Solo Queue. If your team cannot dodge him or you do not see him coming, pop Crystalline Exoskeleton and take him head on. Fracture will not work and neither will Impale. Take the hit and THEN chain your skills and abilities but remember you tooked the blunt and it probably hurt a bit so a wise decision would be a retreat. NOTE his ult will also slow anyone behind you on your team.

His ult, Cataclysm is dangerous but only if he reaches your squishies. If he only locks you inside, it is fine as you can win the duel easy thanks to Fracture and not only that but Crystal Slash is very good if he also locked in a friend of his in the process. Make him pay for the honorable fight, you are a scorpion, you don't need honor!

His Depth Charge will usually be used to a squishy and HIT YOU IN THE PROCESS! Dodge it, its pointless damage, go around to get his own squishies. What you want to eat is the Dredge Line so he pulls you up and not a squishy and then Fracture him so your team can finish him off quickly as he pulls himself forward.

Onslaught of Shadows says it all, he will charge head first into your team and break it all apart. UNLESS! A MIGHTY Skarner appears and CC him hardcore. DO not be afraid to deny him his charge, Fracture and Impale can save your team.

Vault Breaker and Cease and Desist are tremendous engages over walls and through tanks such as yourself. She will forget about you, one of her skills is a built in Black Cleaver and she hits through tanks. Pop everything Fracture and Impale her under your tower or where your entire team can deal enough damage to silence her. Good luck and play carefully against her.

Tanky and powerful! His Unseen Predator along with Thrill of the Hunt is ridiculous, he has full dominance inside a brush inside YOUR jungle even if you have your spires. Outfarming him is your best bet or shutting him down when he ganks. If he is ahead then there is so little you can do other than make him a bigger priority than their ADC because HE WILL HARDCARRY!!
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Core Items and Recommended

Why Health Potions over Refillable Potion?
The answer is simple, 3 Health potions give 450 health during first clears, refillable give 250 health. Yes i know the argument it refills for free at the fountain but let me teach you how much it's worth, the same as a Luden's Tempest on Garen. Not much right? After first clear Skarner gets pretty tanky and heals a lot on his clears making potions downright useless so to get the most bang out of your bucks is to get health potions. Also the difference of 200 HP in the potions will make you live or die if you get invaded, skirmish in the river or ganking a lane early. Play smart not cheap!

It gives everything except AP, Skarner builds with everything not to mention you simply cannot do a game with Skarner without the sheen passive. This item gives Attack Speed, AD, Crit %, health and MS. Trinity will do all of that and finish it off with the runes.

This Item is perfect for bruisers in all possible aspects, reduce opponent armor every attack, you get a nice 300 Health, a very nice 20% CDR and an even nicer 55 ATK Dmg. If going offensive it should be a GOTO.

This Item is CORE, best item for straight out Armor and health especially since it gives out fantastic MS boost for roaming. Make them fear you even more since if you max stack it your first attack will hurt alot more and slow them. 50 Armor and 500 Health is a wonderful combo.

This Item is CORE for your jungle. This should only be built after Sheen from Trinity Force. This is basically a Sunfire Aegis + jungle items, it clears out camps like no tomorrow and makes you even tankier. The chill smite is perfect for slowing someone down long enough for you to catch them with your ult and bring them back to their impending doom.

This Item is CORE but only IF you need MR or have a Soraka or any support who actually heals people. Gives a more than respectable 500 Health and 70 MR not to mention makes every healing 150% its original strength. Always Remember that this item is shredded to bits by Void Staff but that doesn't mean you should sell it when they finish the staff. keep it for the 500 health.

This Item is optional if you want to be tanky and sustain through ganks. It is monstruous when they see you leave a lane at 20% health and freak out when you reappear ten seconds later at FULL health because of it. Saves a lot on recall time and its monstrously tanky with 850 health, 200% health regen and its passive to restore 3% max health every second out of combat.

This Item is optional but one of my personal favorites, 50 AD with 450 Health yes please! The only difference with Black Cleaver is the lack of CDR and the armor cleaving but instead you gain a wave clearing or camp clearing ability. Perfect for side pushing a lane when your team needs it since you will be by far the fastest champ out there. No need to go Ravenous, stay tanky my friend.

These two go great for a Hybrid offense Skarner, do not hesitate to build it if you top is tanking it with the support but your ADC is behind. Makes you scary to run into if you also have tank items like Dead Man's Plate and Stalker's Blade - Cinderhulk.

Some of you will have noticed how I keep talking AD Skarner yet i clearly put some AP items in there. Rod of Ages is perfect if you want to tank some hits and have a better shield but honestly Spirit Visage and Dead Man's Plate do a better job at it even without the boost on your W. Nashor's tooth on the other hand helps your Q a bit, still trying it out and it looks alright but falls short of guinsoo's most the time.
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Combo Wombo

Skarner Is not combo reliant such as Ryze or Lee, he simply demands to be in the fight with good positionning. That means HEAD FIRST into their positions, you want to BREAK THEM and DISRUPT whatever their futile attempts to do are trying.

Spam it whenever available, it slips perfectly in between all auto attacks and increases your DPS ridiculously against champions. Remember if they are close, not close enough to AA but close it is just a hair away. Crystal Slash them and it will reach. It has a little more than AA range.

Basic Attack
This is your most useful displacement combo and your go to wombo for ADC fishing. Plan your shot with Fracture and then go get him with Impale in order to get the real stun once they are at destination.

This is your surprise over the wall combo to fish their ADC out with a friend of yours waiting or if you really need to catch someone as they run.

Tower fishing, when at a standoff pop your shield, slow down your target if they are in range and go get them with impale. You then proceed to flash out before their team CC you inside and you just gave them a free kill and a sucessful defense.
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The following videos simply show a quick tutorial on Skarner from first clears to positioning and overall roaming. These are meant either to supplement the knowledge of this guide or in some cases, replace it. I, just like everyone else, hate reading lots when I just want to jump in and play a new champion. Have fun and drop a hello on my youtube channel if you are feeling generous XD.

Jungle clearing:

Note in this video I made some counter jungling against Sejuani, this is why you gobble up the 3 health potions and get your lifesteal action on the scuttler. I HAD TWICE HER HEALTH! That is why she ran, also since i knew she left (recalled) i offered myself up to her red buff, yummy.


Note in this video it is all short clips of when i take a visit to lanes, only visit if the enemy is pushed up or centered where you can get some work done. For as to why i camped top lane, i burned his flash on first visit so that makes a 5 minute window for harass until killed. I ignored pings from Garen since i was taxing him for having me visit.

I am sure everyone can see that even with just one completed item, Skarner can tower dive easily. Note that a gank is successful when you reach one of these criterias:
1) Burned their flash(es);
2) Made them fall back so your laner can farm, preferably recalled due to damage;
3) A Kill was made by you or the laner;

A gank is failed when:
1) You die;
2) Your laner dies (unless if you get a double kill, 1 for 2 ain't so bad);
3) You all have to recall and they get some free farm
4) You burned your flash or your laner did and your enemy did not

Cruising for a Bruising:

Results may vary based on opponents skills and champions and items you choose differently but in general a good show of the work that can be done. Enjoy!
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Thank you everyone for reading my guide to Skarner.
I hope to see you all on the Rift playing a much meaner Skarner as he is severely underrated but so so so powerful, his map presence is ridiculous and even if i know how to play him, i fear playing against a good Skarner
If ever something sticks out as wrong or questionable I encourage you to comment it or send me a message and we can discuss it and who knows you might have seen something I haven't and thus helped create a more informed guide for everyone to enjoy.

***Note***If there are any grammatical error please send me a personnal message so that I may fix it, my first language is french and thus my english still needs refinement. The explanation of the applied grammar rule is always appreciated so that i may learn and not repeat the mistake.

Thank you and have a great time playing League of Legends,
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Skarner References and Updates

Skarner had his passive refactored(redesigned) as of the Juggernaught update in 5.17 and he now has the spires. Before it was his E stun every hit 3 or 4 hit not too sure but it is not so important now.


This page has at the bottom a nice feature explaining every changes to his mechanics and skills, do read if ever you wonder about why something is weaker or stronger than expected.
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Update Log

-March 20, 2017-

Updated and reviewed for 7.5 (more to come) Bit of work done to improve readability and options surrounding Skarner in runes and masteries
-March 14, 2016-

Updated and reviewed for 6.5 Bit of work done to improve readability and options surrounding Skarner in items and matchups

-February 20, 2016-
Removed AP Items, just not worth the time, maybe after mage update. Modified Keystone Mastery, Deathfire Touch is winner now!

-February 2, 2016-
Added Health potions Vs Refillable Potions Played a bit with items and polished up some texts

-January 28, 2016-
Guide published for patch 6.1

League of Legends Champions:

Teamfight Tactics Guide